NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee kids are doing the best they have ever done, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.
That’s the assessment of an annual well-known survey called Kids Count from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that ranks the well-being of children nationwide.
Tennessee was ranked at No. 35, which has been a gradual improvement since being near the bottom of the 50 states in the Kids Count survey during the late 1990s.
“There are metrics we can measure about the well-being of children,” said Governor Bill Haslam Tuesday during a ceremony at the state capitol. “We are pleased that this is Tennessee’s highest ranking ever.”
It was the first time that a Tennessee governor has ever been at the annual release of well-being rankings.
The nationally recognized Kids Count surveys see how children in each state are doing based on things like education, economics and healthcare.
Most of the areas of improvement for Tennessee were in economics and education.
More jobs attracted to Tennessee helps kids by helping their families out of poverty.
“Economic development and the availability of jobs that pay living wages for families are the best way to move children out of poverty,” said Linda O’Neal who is executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. (TCCY). “We have seen slight improvements in the number of kids in poverty
Governor Haslam was joined by education leaders and others members of the TCCY.
Their analysis of the 2017 Kids Count report showed Tennessee ranking better in areas like 4th grade reading when the year 2015 is compared to 2009 or eighth graders doing better in math when comparing the same years.
The governor was well aware of some of Tennessee’s deficiencies when looking at the Kids Count numbers.
“Like teen pregnancies,” he told reporters afterwards. “We are better than we were, but we are still very low on the rankings.”
The governor doesn’t seen any magic bullets in legislation to improve the lives of Tennessee kids.
Instead he says “let’s complete what we’ve started” with policies of more jobs and education improvement to keep making the well being of Tennessee children better.
Statewide and county-by-county data on Tennessee child well-being indicators are available at KidsCount.org.